Sermon: Our Lenten Creed

Sermon Text: Mark 12:28-31 Sermon Excerpt I have one Christian education activity I use more than any other to help Christians work through what Christianity is all about.  I have facilitated it in many churches with youth and also with adults. This is how it works.  Those gathered are divided into small groups of five to eight people.  Each small group is asked to create a list of what it is one must believe to be labeled a Christian.  The only rule is that for any item to make the Read More …

Sermon: The Jesus Creed

Sermon Text - Mark 12:28-31 Sermon Excerpt Every semester I teach a survey course in world religions at Hodges University.  While most students are fascinated to learn about a new religion every week, they tend to find the pace challenging.  When we reach the eleventh week of the term, many breathe a sigh of relief since it is the week we consider Christianity. Many of my students, perhaps like most of you, feel confident they know Christianity better than any other religion.  We know Read More …

Faith & Voting

Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, recently wrote about how being a disciple of Jesus leads him to vote and shapes how he votes. For me voting is love in action.  It is about loving God, neighbor and about self.  Therefore, I vote for candidates who are likely to enact policies that honor God and are in the best interest of my neighbors.  Of course, I also vote in my own self-interest and that too is an act of love.  However, I want to be clear voting Read More …

Future Church – More Jesus-Centered

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #6 More Jesus-Centered – Less Focused on Tradition When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be more Jesus-centered and less focused on tradition.  This shift offers considerable hope for renewal within the church and growth from those who find its new emphasis appealing.  While past efforts have tended toward extremes (e.g., Restoration movements on the right and the Jesus Seminar on the left) new quests will be open to Read More …

Review of The King Jesus Gospel

Meet the Author Scot McKnight is professor of religious studies at North Park University.  He is a leading authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus.  McKnight has written over 20 books including The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (read how this book has influenced me), Fasting (read my review), The Real Mary: Why Evangelicals Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus (read my review), and One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow (read my review).  McKnight’s Read More …

Rethinking Religious Rules

This morning I am preaching at Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL.  You can read the full text of my sermon, Rethinking Religious Rules, here. For more information about the books referenced visit my review of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow and my thoughts on The Jesus Creed, which was a part of my Who is Jesus? series. So What? In his recent book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, Scot McKnight writes these words: “Every religious culture multiplies rules (except Jesus’ Read More …

From Loving God to . . .

John Jensen blogs about a number of topics and relates each of them to "what Jesus has to do with it all." Recently, he wrote a post titled "Ten Things I would say to the Church (if they listened to me)" featuring the following items:  Love God, love one another, love your neighbor, everyone is your neighbor . . . What you do (orthopraxy) is as important, if not more important as what you believe (orthodoxy) . . . Stop trying to get the world to come into your church, and get your Read More …

Questions Worth Answering

Established in 1999, the Spirituality Book Club is "an on-line global community of kindred spirits who explore spirituality through books, music, discussion, and ways to get involved in doing good things globally."  Yesterday, I was featured on their Real People, Real Lives, Real Spirituality blog.  A copy of my interview follows: Name: Greg Smith Where you live: Naples, FL What you do as a vocation or avocation? Research, speak and write about education, especially relating to technology and Read More …

What Does it Mean to Live as a Follower of Jesus?

What does it mean to live as a follower of Jesus?  The profoundly simple yet incredibly challenging answer is found in this creative two minute video. So What? Director, animator and compositor Dan Stevers created this video for Journey Community Church to help publicize an upcoming event featuring Scot McKnight.  If you don't know anything about Scot McKnight beyond what you just watched, I encourage you take the time to learn more.  You can read his award winning blog, friend him on Read More …

A Year With the Sermon on the Mount

For the last few years, I have been studying the life and ministry of Jesus in an attempt to more fully answer the question: “Who is Jesus?”  A few months ago I wrote series of posts sharing areas of emphasis in my study of Jesus over the last several years: prayers, parables, priorities, and creed.  Recently, I read a blog that has led me to ponder the possibility of spending some time focusing on preaching.  That blog, "A Year With the Sermon on the Mount," encourages participants to make Read More …